Hendersons Relish: Sheffield's best kept secret for 138 years

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It's the city’s best kept secret

Henderson’s Relish: where did it come from and why do we love it so damn much? Where did it all start?

As you might expect, Henderson’s Relish (or Hendo’s, as it’s affectionately known round these parts) was created by a man called Henderson. Sheffield grocer Henry Henderson developed the first batch in 1885, at his home, 44 Green Lane, and it’s been a city insititution ever since.

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Only a handful of people know the Henderson's Relish recipeOnly a handful of people know the Henderson's Relish recipe
Only a handful of people know the Henderson's Relish recipe

When Henry retired in 1910, he sold the business to Shaws of Huddersfield. That was the last involvement the Henderson family had with the brand, but it’s remained with George Shaw’s descendants ever since.

The first Hendo’s factory opened at 66 Leavygreave Road, and in 1925, the iconic orange and black label was born. That’s nearly 100 years of pitch-perfect branding. In 1959, it moved down the road to the iconic site that was its home for over 50 years. 

Nowadays, Hendo’s is stocked in shops and supermarkets all over South Yorkshire and beyond. But there are still only a handful of people who know the closely guarded recipe - a special blend of tamarinds, cayenne peppers, vinegar, garlic and cloves.

What makes it so special?

It’s all about heritage, isn’t it. Here in Sheffield, we’re rightly proud of the things we make and do, from our football teams (usually) to our musicians and our universities. Hendo’s is as much a part of our fabric as steel and steep hills.

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But aside from all that - it just tastes really, really good.

Six things you never knew you never knew about Henderson’s Relish:

- Sweet stuff

Most Hendo’s fans will splash the dark stuff on everything from cheese on toast, to poached eggs, to shepherd’s pie. But have you ever tried it in your puddings? A quick Google brings up dozens of recipes for chocolate and Hendo’s mousse, and city centre restaurant Silversmiths once served up chocolate and strawberry mousse with Henderson’s Relish honeycomb

- Celebrity fans

Sheffield is home to its fair share of famous faces, and they’re not afraid to spread the word. Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders described Hendo’s as “like Worcester sauce, but one million times better”, while golfer Danny Willetts chose cottage pie with Henderson's Relish as the starter for his Masters Champions Dinner in 2017. And it’s not just local celebs who love the stuff. Scottish singer KT Tunstall described Hendo’s as “the best non-alcoholic liquid on the face of the planet”

- Political scandal 

There was uproar on Twitter in 2014 after Lewisham MP Jim Dowd accused Hendo’s of being a knock-off of Lea & Perrins. Nick Clegg, who back then was Deputy Prime Minister, jumped to its defence, writing an open letter to Dowd stating that “Henderson’s Relish is a much loved local institution. We are confident it would win in any blind taste test, whether at a pub in Blackheath or anywhere else."

- Apocalypse now?

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Hendo’s manufacturers have to include a best before date on every bottle, but the relish just gets better and better with age. That bottle that’s been at the back of your cupboard since you moved to Sheffield for university in 2005? Give it a taste - you (hopefully) won’t regret it.

- It’s totally 2023. 

Hendo’s is bang on trend with the diets of today, being both gluten free and vegan. Even better? All of its packaging is widely recyclable, and comes from a local glass supplier. It even got the jump on the zero-waste shops that are popping up across the city. Back in Henry Henderson’s day, the relish was kept in a barrel and customers had to bring their own bottles to fill up.

- The recipe. 

Come on… you didn’t think we’d be giving away a secret that’s been kept for 138 years, did you?

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